Summer Sessions is back and better than ever.
This year’s lineup will start with Edmonton-based singer-songwriter Martin Kerr and special guest Bob Donaldson on Wednesday, Jun. 16.
Born in Oakham, U.K., Kerr was drawn to music at a long age. He began performing at the age of five and recalls the ability to captivate people with a song as the defining moment in his life that steered him towards a career in entertainment.
“I really loved how music could so powerfully change the atmosphere in a room and the feelings people were having. It has connected with me and inspired me ever since I can remember,” said Kerr.
Growing up, his idols were the “confessional” singer-songwriters of the 1970s such as James Taylor and Alberta’s own Joni Mitchell. They heavily influenced his sound which he describes as “ever-evolving” and “honest.” At its heart, Kerr said his music is about telling stories that connect people through beautiful melodies.
“The song has to pass the campfire test. If it sounds great with just a guitar and vocals then that’s good enough for me,” said Kerr.
It wasn’t until his move to Canada in 2006 that Kerr became a professional musician. Since then, he has released two studio albums and one live album respectively titled Better Than Brand-New (2017), Everything Is Under Control (2020), and Live with the Secret Chamber Orchestra (2021). Additionally, he has 10 singles available for streaming including the viral pandemic-themed song “Isolation Groove” and “You’re Amazing” which was featured in the #StonyPlainTogether campaign in April 2020.
Like most musicians, when the pandemic hit in March 2020, his career suddenly came to a screeching halt. However, instead of letting COVID-19 get the better of his aspirations, he and his team quickly developed a plan which would see to it that he had the busiest year of his career as a performer. Coined “Stay Home Street Concerts,” Kerr would visit Edmonton area neighbourhoods and perform from the safety of the street. As word began to spread, Kerr turned into a hot commodity for those seeking some much-needed entertainment. Between April and September of 2020, he completed over 300 live performances for appreciative fans.
“Every circumstance can be seen as an opportunity. The very fact that there weren’t any big concerts happening made it more important than ever for me to find ways to reach people. It’s been especially rewarding to share music with people when they’ve needed it most,” said Kerr.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy this past year, he also recorded two albums. The first being Live with the Secret Chamber Orchestra and the second being Grateful, an album of collaborations with eight of his favourite local artists including CBC Searchlight winner Josh Sahunta and Juno Award winner Celeigh Cardinal. The latter will be released on Sept. 17.
With his Summer Sessions performance approaching, Kerr said he is looking forward to returning to the stage in Stony Plain whether it’s in-person or virtual. He recalls his previous appearance at the event in 2018 as “really memorable” citing the large, fun, and engaged audience which was happy to sing along and “laugh at all his jokes.”
“I always try to stretch both ends of the spectrum during my shows so people can expect to be moved and also to laugh and feel joyful. Exploring those peaks and valleys with people is what I always look forward to,” said Kerr.
Special guest Bob Donaldson will take to the stage at 6:30 PM followed by Kerr at 7:00 PM. For more information, visit stonyplain.com/summersessions.
For those unable to attend his Summer Sessions performance, fear not. His “Stay Home Street Concerts” remain available for booking via martinkerrmusic.com. Additionally, he will be performing “Martin Kerr Under the Stars” with the Secret Chamber Orchestra at Gallagher Park in Edmonton on Aug. 11 and a sold-out headlining show at the Jubilee Auditorium on Sept. 17 — his biggest show to date. This performance will coincide with the release of Grateful and feature several special guests.
“I don’t care where I sing. If people are listening then I’m delighted to do it. I see my mission in life as to bring songs of comfort and hope and inspiration to people in every phase of their lives,” said Kerr.